06/09/2009 12:00AM

Penn closing pools earlier


Penn National began closing its pools after the first horse has been loaded into the gate starting on Saturday because of two incidents within the previous two weeks in which the pools failed to close.

The latest incident occurred during the second race on the Friday-night card. According to officials of the track and its bet-processing company, the pools remained open for approximately 25 seconds after the race had started. The track ended up refunding approximately two-thirds of the pool after attempting to determine which wagers had been placed before the start of the race. The race was not made official until nearly four hours after it had been run.

"That doesn't mean that two-thirds of the pool was past-posted," said Chris McErlean, the track's vice president of racing. "We could only verify so much of the pool."

Penn National also had a past-posting incident on May 20, when pools remained open for almost four minutes after a race had started, and Penn National refunded all wagers.

Jeff True, the president of United Tote, Penn National's bet-processing provider, said that company officials are designing a new configuration for Penn National's network that will keep two communication lines open at all times. In both incidents, stop-betting commands could not be sent by stewards at the track because of either failures in the communications network or a delay in booting the backup system, True said.

The new configuration should be installed at Penn National by the end of the week, True said on Tuesday. The new setup will also be installed at other tracks served by United Tote, according to True.